JAMIE NESS is relishing the prospect of launching his Stoke City career in the United States . . . after a particularly tough period in his career for a number of reasons.
The Scottish Under-21 international is in line to make his Potters debut in the pre-season match against Columbus Crew on Tuesday evening after FIFA granted him provisional international clearance to officially complete the switch to the Britannia Stadium.
Ness had originally agreed to join City subject to international clearance after exercising his right to make the move from Glasgow Rangers as a free agent earlier this month.
Since then, he has also completed a gruelling first week of pre-season training in Switzerland to dispel any lingering doubts about his fitness after an injury troubled time last season when he was restricted to a handful of appearances by a long-standing groin problem.
"It's been a long two months and obviously difficult times before that," he told Stoke City Player. "But I am delighted to be here now and looking forward to the challenge.
"It's been one of the toughest pre-seasons I've ever done so far, running up and down the hills in Switzerland. It isn't fun, but it's well worth it to get the level of fitness.
"All the lads have done very well; I certainly feel a lot stronger for it, so I believe I am ready now to push on and play regularly for the Club in the coming season."
City are spending a large proportion of their pre-season abroad with the training camp in Switzerland being followed by a twelve day trip to the United States.
For Ness, as a newcomer to the Potters squad, that is a blessing in disguise as he endeavours to settle in and get to know his new team-mates.
"It actually forces you to get know everyone much quicker because you spend so much time with them, and they're a great bunch of lads," he commented.
"There is a fantastic team spirit here, a great sense of togetherness and that has been a big part of why the Club has done so well in recent years."
In talking about his move south to Stoke, he added: "It's the Premier League, it's the best League in the world, so it's very hard to turn that down.
"When I travelled down to Stoke, I spoke to Tony Pulis and he really sold the club to me. It's a family club with a great sense of togetherness throughout.
"I hope to add to that by helping the club to make further progress over the next few years. It's obviously a very exciting challenge for me."